Brera is probably Seoul’s most famous Italian restaurant, firstly because the food is delicious and well priced, but secondly because owner Giovanni doesn’t ever seem to stop shouting about how great it is. I first met Giovanni many years ago when they opened up a small restaurant within a restaurant in my neighbourhood of Haebangchon. It was a runaway success and they soon moved to their larger premises in Beotigogae and Brera was born. It is now three years old, and whilst I have been many many many times over the years, I felt I needed to do a re-review, especially since the website has been updated and my photos have improved.
The menu hasn’t changed much over the years, and neither has the decor, which remains a fun modern red in style. Its open plan style makes it perfect for large groups. The large menu consist of some starters, and a variety of red, white and oil pastas plus a selection of pizzas and meat dishes most of which are under 16,000 won. Whilst we were perusing the menu we brought some complimentary homemade bread with aioli, which was absolutely divine.
As it was a special occasion, we were celebrating our recent wedding, I asked if I could bring my own wine, as we had some left over from the wedding, and didn’t want it to go to waste. I was greeted with Giovanni’s cheery “No Problem,” and although we would have been happy to pay, no corkage was added to the bill. It is the small things like this, that make this place so special. If you have any requests they are almost always happy to oblige you.
The first dish to come out was the Margherita Bufala Pizza (18,500). The crust was wafer thin and crispy and it was topped with the perfect medley of basil, tomato, and mozzarella. I adore Italian pizza, and this one always makes my taste buds happy. We had a piece each and were just dithering on how to divide up the remaining slices when a complimentary focaccia arrived and saved the day.
In quick succession out came the pasta dishes. My favourite is their Gnocchi Gorgonzola & Noci (15,900), so couldn’t resist ordering it. The soft and pillowy potato dumplings are tossed in a rich cheesy creamy sauce and topped with walnuts. If you like rich and creamy dishes, it’s a must try, although a close second is the Fettuccine alla Fantasia Funghi (15,900). The fettuccine is tossed with sauteed mushrooms, onions, heavy cream and parmesan, and was so good it even managed to convince one of my guests, who had never been a fan of Brera before (one bad brunch dish), that he was wrong about this restaurant.
We also ordered the Saltimbocca alla Romana (19,500) which I had never tried before. The slices of beef were topped with crispy Italian ham and sage, the meat was very tender and a nice balance of saltiness was provided by the ham while retaining the flavour of the sage. It also came with the most amazing crispy potatoes, I could have eaten those for days. Lastly we couldn’t order a meal here without getting the Lasagna Nonna Silvana (15,900), which is based on Nonna Silvana’s famous recipe. Topped with oodles of cheese, this five layer meat stuffed pasta dish is the business.
Lastly we finished up with two desserts, the Tiramisu (6,000), and the Italian Creme Brulee (6,000). Usually the tiramisu, a creamy mix of coffee, booze soaked sponge cake, and mascarpone is a favourite of mine, but tonight it was topped by the creme brulee though I’m not sure how it really differed from the french version. Sadly they were out of the cannoli which have recently been added to the menu, and I was dying to try. I guess I shall have to go back again for another visit.
Overall for the quality of the food and the price, Brera cannot be beat. Our bill for five people was less than 100,00 and included five main courses, a selection of breads and two desserts. The homemade pasta here is is half of the cost of what you will pay for similar dishes in other restaurants. Which along with the wonderful service and hospitality is probably why it has remained so popular after all these years.
Brera is located at 2F 295 Dongho-ro 17gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 동호로17길 295, 2F) To get there take a train to Beotigogae station and come out of exit 1. Turn back on yourself at the exit. Walk straight and take the first right that goes up the hill. Brera is just a few meters up on the right. For more information you can call them on 010-8070-1982 or check out their facebook page